That was one heck of a snowstorm that walloped the northeast on Monday and Tuesday, and I’d like to offer my best to those who endured it. I hope you and yours are well.
Snowstorms, at first, can seem like fun. You might get the day off work, or just use it as an excuse to sit around the house and do nothing. But the truth is that a snowstorm can be quite dangerous and could put your health at risk. But we can use the most recent storm as a reminder of the importance of preparedness.
In fact, I remember a huge storm we experienced last winter that saw us pelted with a big mess of snow, freezing rain, and ice pellets. There was massive damage to trees and power lines. Millions in North America lost their power, some for just 24 hours and some for up to a week. Power was down in my neighborhood for about a day, but I’d thought ahead and I had plenty of emergency supplies to keep my family warm, safe, and fed. In fact, we hosted some of our neighbors who weren’t quite so ready for this kind of weather emergency. I’m just glad I was prepared.
So taking possible electricity outages, snow and ice accumulation, and travel difficulties into consideration, here are some tips I’d like to offer to you that you can use the next time there’s a winter weather warning. These tips will help ensure your health and safety until conditions subside.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #1: Stock Up on Supplies
The first thing you need to do to protect yourself from a snowstorm is make sure you have all the necessary supplies. It’s quite possible that your power could go out in addition to the fact that you might not be able to leave your home or navigate the roads.
Make sure you have lots of bottled water, canned food (particularly food that doesn’t require heating, since your oven, microwave, and toaster may be out of service), batteries, extra blankets, warm clothing, candles and matches/lighters, and a couple of working flashlights.
Your risk of trip and fall incidents can increase greatly if the power goes out, so investing in small battery-operated lights that you can install in the hallways and main rooms of your house is a good move. Throughout the year, take time to just double-check that these lights are working properly, so they’re sure to help in an emergency.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #2: Have a Safety System in Place
If you have power, keep your television or radio on so you can get updates about emergency numbers and the efforts to clear the snow in your area. If you don’t already have one, invest in a battery-powered or crank radio, so that you can still get these updates if your power goes out.
You should also have a check-in system in place with your family, friends, and/or neighbors. This is especially important for the elderly, who may be more affected by the cold or unsafe, slippery conditions. If you have an elderly neighbor, relative, or friend, make the effort to check in with them to see that they’re safe. Better yet, before the storm hits, ask if they’d like to join you at your home during the duration of the storm. This makes it easier to ensure they’re safe, especially if you get snowed in.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #3: Stock Up on Prescriptions
This is especially important for those who require prescriptions to maintain their health. While it’s best to have a month’s supply of any prescription on hand at all times, at the minimum, have a week’s supply or two stocked in your medicine cabinet if a winter storm warning is in effect or you find yourself in any emergency situation.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #4: Arrange for Snow Removal
If you can’t dig yourself out, don’t try. Shoveling snow can be very difficult and if you’re in poor health, are overweight, feel weak, or have existing health conditions, it can be extremely dangerous and could increase your risk of a heart attack. Instead, arrange for a neighbor with a snowblower, a plow company, or someone you know who’s able-bodied to remove the snow.
If you’re going with a snow removal company or employing a neighbor’s services, have an arrangement in place for this kind of emergency, so that you’re sure to be at the top of the list, rather than on the wait-list, since they’re sure to be busy after the fact.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #5: Stay Put
I can’t stress this enough: if you absolutely don’t have to be out and about, don’t be. Going for an exploratory walk can be dangerous, even if you live in the middle of the city. It’s hard work walking through the snow, and if you fall, you could be in big trouble. Keeping your car parked is also the best idea; being out on slippery streets is never safe.
Winter Storm Safety Tip #6: Restock and Review Your Safety Preparedness
As I mentioned, this week’s storm is a perfect opportunity to review your preparedness. If you found you weren’t as ready for this storm as you should’ve been—perhaps you ran out of water or came close to an empty prescription bottle—now is the time to restock and review how much you really need to have on hand. Check in with your neighbors, family members, and friends, too, to see how they did; perhaps their experience didn’t go as smoothly as theirs and they could maybe use your helping hand the next time Jack Frost hits hard.
Use these tips to prepare yourself for the next big blizzard or ice storm. Just these six simple steps could ensure your safety.